As the 49ers opened their three-day weekend of joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens, news broke that Alex Boone is garnering interest from “multiple teams” on the trade front according to multiple reports.
If Boone and San Francisco cannot come to an accord on a new deal, then trading the right guard would seem to make the most sense. Presumably the 49ers are hoping a team in need of a tackle would be interested in trading a mid-round draft pick for Boone. Tackles are far more valuable than guards, and far more difficult to replace.
In that scenario, it would be a win-win situation for both the 49ers and Boone. The former Ohio State Buckeye would likely get the raise he’s looking for as a tackle while San Francisco would gain a valuable future pick after developing a player that went undrafted in 2009. With Joe Staley and Anthony Davis bookending the offensive line with deals through 2020, Boone was not going to get tackle money in San Francisco.
But the key question becomes whether or not the 49ers feel comfortable about replacing Boone along the team’s offensive line. He has played a vital role since taking over the starting job in 2012 after the position had been in flux while helping San Francisco’s offensive line become one of the best in the league.
Boone received a very modest five-year deal in 2011 while he was still a backup. He has a two years and a reported $4 million remaining. He has heavily outperformed his contract. According to Overthecap.com, Boone is 39th among NFL guards making $1.635 million per season on average.
Joe Looney has played the majority of time with the first team in Boone’s absence and has looked good during training camp, but was a mixed bag in the team’s preseason opener against the Ravens.
Looney played 49 percent of the snaps, but “Got high on a few plays,” according to Jim Harbaugh. “It was good work and things that are fixable, things that are correctable. Look forward to getting that done between our first game and our second game,” he said.
Given that Boone’s holdout has gone for more than two weeks in training camp, is Harbaugh assuming Boone will not be with the team at the start of the regular season?
”No, not assuming anything,” he said.
All three practices Saturday through Monday between the Ravens and 49ers will be in pads, Harbaugh said. Given the increased tension shown at 49ers’ training camp to this point, that decision garnered some attention. Harbaugh has already dealt with two dust ups at practice from Anquan Boldin and Chris Culliver - and Stevie Johnson had to be restrained from going after Ravens corner Jimmy Smith following a hit out of bounds in Thursday’s game.
Harbaugh said he spoke with his brother, John, the coach of the Ravens, about the two teams protecting each other during practice.
”We feel like it’s in the best interests of both teams to do that,” Jim said. “We want to take care of the Ravens, we want to be safe out here, and we need them to do the same for us. That’s the kind of environment where iron sharpens iron. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for good practice work. These aren’t games out here. This is practice.”
Jacobs suffered an ACL tear late in Thursday’s game, Harbaugh said.
Lewis joins the 49ers after spending parts of 2013 on Washington and Dallas’ practice squad. He originally joined Washington as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina, where he appeared in 22 games, making 149 receptions (22 touchdowns) for 1,716 yards.
Lewis is the second receiver the 49ers have signed since the start of camp. Last week they added L’Damian Washington of waivers after releasing Jon Baldwin. Washington did not play in Thursday’s preseason opener.
The key theme of Thursday’s 23-3 loss in Baltimore was the 49ers’ thin defensive line. They entered the game with just six healthy linemen and lost two to ankle injuries in Demarcus Dobbs and Lawrence Okoye. It remains to be seen if those players will practice this weekend with the Ravens.
”We’ve got some reinforcements coming next week, from our own team,” said Harbaugh.
Those reinforcements could come in the form of Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and/or Ian Williams. That trio has yet to practice with the team so far in camp. Their absence was certainly noticeable as the 49ers allowed 237 rushing yards to Baltimore, who finished as one of the worst running teams in the NFL in 2013.
Former lineman turned fullback Will Tukuafu was forced to return to the defensive line late in Thursday’s loss, playing four plays on defense. The lack of depth forced 2013 draft picks Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial to play 60 and 56 snaps respectively, far more than they were expecting going in.
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